Indian Headdress Half Dollar Patterns
1871 50C Standard Silver Half Dollar, Judd-1106, Pollock-1242, R.7

The obverse is the Longacre Indian Princess design, in a starless field. The reverse offers a wreath of corn and cotton enclosing 50 / CENTS, the latter in an upcurving arc, with STANDARD at the upper rim. Struck in copper with a reeded edge.

The 1871 pattern half dollars show several variants, with either a Standard Silver or regular Seated Liberty half reverse, and plain or starry field on the Indian Princess obverses. The silver and copper examples, all with reeded edge, are in the Low R.7-High R.7 range, with the aluminum strikings R.8. A unique nickel example from the regular dies (Judd-1119) is also known.

PR65 Red Cameo $16,100.00 (Jan 6, 2009 HA.com)
1871 50C Half Dollar, Judd-1109, Pollock-1245, R.7

A seated Liberty faces left, wearing an Indian Princess headdress and a flowing robe. Her left hand rests atop a globe wrapped with a scroll bearing the word LIBERTY in raised letters, while holding a spear and Liberty cap in her right hand. Two flags--one bearing 13 stars--are in the background with the date 1871 in exergue. The periphery is free of stars or legends. The reverse is that of the regular-issue half dollar. Struck in copper with a reeded edge.

Pollock, in his United States Patterns and Related Issues, explores the origin of this obverse design:

"Although Longacre's Indian princess motif did not appear on any patterns prior to 1870, the design is known to have been conceived by him no later than 1852. Cory Gillilland in her 'Bullion Coins: A Nineteenth Century Proposal,' illustrates Longacre's circa 1852 sketches for this motif. The obverse design, illustrated on p. 22 of the article, is almost identical to that featured on the 'Indian princess' pattern pieces produced in 1870 through 1873, after Longacre's death (in 1869)."

The USPatterns.com website opines that William Barber implemented Longacre's Indian Princess design. Although this motif was never adopted for use on regular-issue U.S. coinage, a similar style of Liberty is found on the U.S. Trade dollars minted between 1873 and 1885.

PR64 Red Cameo $10,350.00 (Jan 6, 2009 HA.com)
1871 50C Standard Silver Half Dollar, Judd-1111, Pollock-1247, Low R.7

A seated Liberty faces left, wearing an Indian princess headdress and a flowing robe. Her left hand rests atop a globe wrapped with a scroll bearing the word LIBERTY in raised letters, while holding a spear and liberty cap in her right hand. Two flags--one bearing 13 stars--are in the background with the date 1871 in exergue. Thirteen stars fill the periphery. Reverse: 50 / CENTS within an open agricultural wreath and a smaller STANDARD at the upper border. Struck in silver with a reeded edge.

Pollock (1994) states that Cory Gillilland, in an article titled "Bullion Coins: A Nineteenth Century Proposal," references a letter from James Longacre to Mint Director George Eckert. In the letter, Longacre states that the purpose of his design "is to express a representation of America, by a female figure, in aboriginal costume, seated, contemplating one of the usual emblems of liberty, elevated on a spear, which she holds in her right hand; her left hand resting on a globe, presenting the western hemisphere."

The USPatterns.com website states that "this is the most common of the four Longacre designs of this year with slightly over a dozen known." A fascinating comment, considering that the word "common" is associated with a pattern that has appeared at auction less than 10 times in the past 15 years.

PR62 Cameo $4,887.50 (Jan 6, 2009 HA.com)
1871 50C Half Dollar, Judd-1114, Pollock-1250, High R.7

A seated Liberty faces left, wearing an Indian princess headdress and a flowing robe. Her left hand rests atop a globe wrapped with a scroll bearing the word LIBERTY in raised letters, while holding a spear and Liberty cap in her right hand. Two flags--one bearing 13 stars--are in the background, with the date 1871 in exergue. Thirteen stars fill the periphery. A regular half dollar reverse die was used to produce Judd-1109. An eagle with a shield on its breast and wings spread holds arrows and olive branches in its talons. The upper field features a flowing scroll with IN GOD WE TRUST in raised letters. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA fills the upper periphery with HALF DOL. below. Struck in silver with a reeded edge.

Andrew Pollock's 1994 pattern reference offers an inaccurate census, so we cautiously provide a modified provenance for the current offering. Coincidentally, the piece in this sale is the Pollock plate coin and was featured on the cover of the October 1988 Stack's sale. Pollock suggests this pattern was once the property of King Farouk and was subsequently sold as part of the Stanford Collection via Steve Ivy in July 1977. Unfortunately, the Judd-1114 in that sale was unplated, so positive identification is impossible. Pollock also counts seven examples, but fewer are believed extant, lending credence to the fact that his itemization is erroneously expansive.

PR67  Cameo $40,250.00 (Jan 6, 2009 HA.com)
1871 50C Half Dollar, Judd-1108, Pollock-1244, High R.7

Longacre's Indian Princess design with 13 stars on the flag and none along the periphery, paired with a regular Seated half reverse die. Struck in silver with a reeded edge. Well struck and nearly brilliant with flashy mirrored fields. The reverse is double struck with a clockwise spread of approximately five degrees. The obverse shows no evidence of a double strike, and was apparently the anvil die.

PR64 $9,200.00 (Jul 12, 2007 HA.com)
Source for information and pictures courtesy of  Heritage Coin Auctions
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